A General Purpose Ultraviolet Observatory

SPECTRUM UV is planned as a general purpose ultraviolet observatory. The current Phase A study activities are supported by the Space Agencies of Russia, Ukraine, Italy and Germany. Spectrum UV is planned to be launched into a high elliptical orbit around the turn of the century by a Russian Proton spacecraft.

The observatory consists of an 170 cm aperture normal incidence telescope for imaging and spectroscopy in the wavelength range of 91 to 400 nm. The telescope is destined to provide ultraviolett imagery and spectra of stars, extragalactic sources and solar system bodies but also of circumstellar, interstellar and intergalactic matter.

All systems of the satellite are designed for an operational lifetime of at least three years. During this period the satellite will enable the scientists to investigate several thousands of astronomical objects. At any arbitrary time about 65% of the sky will be observable. During one year the whole sky can be reached.

Since ultraviolet light is strongly absorbed in the higher layers of the Earth's atmosphere, the radiation of astrophysical bodies in the spectral range of 91-300 nm is hidden for ground based astronomy. However, it is this wavelength region which contains the most astrophysically interesting spectral lines of the most abundant chemical elements. Therefore, the study of ultraviolet images and spectra will reveal important new information about the Universe. SPECTRUM UV is proposed as a Guest Observer facility similar to the succesfully operating observatories IUE and HST and expected to be used by a wide astronomical community.

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suv@aip.de - T. Bloecker - 30. Jan. 1996